Meditation Focus #141
Being All The Gratitude That We Can Be
What follows is the 141st Meditation Focus suggested for the next 2 weeks beginning Sunday, November 20, 2005.
BEING ALL THE GRATITUDE THAT WE CAN BE
2. Meditation times
3. More information related to this Meditation Focus
4. Environmental Vigil For Global Warming Meeting in Montreal
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE IN PASSING THIS ON TO OTHERS
After being offered previously with six gifts love, compassion, harmony, Light, joy and oneness a seventh sage is stepping forward to also bring forward his invaluable contribution to humanity's global awakening.
When one comes to life and takes the very first breathe, hence starts the lifelong process that will maintain this new being in physical existence. And then every time one takes in some food or beverage, more is given to help maintain the body through which life and its infinitely diverse palette of tastes, smells, sights, sounds, touches and other subtler senses can be experienced. Every time one goes successfully through another of life's numerous challenges, thus increasing the accrued knowledge, yet even more is given to prod our awakening God-sense of acutely aware Presence into ever greater understanding of our place and role in this universe. All this and the mere fact that tens of trillions of human cells harmoniously and ceaselessly work together to ensure the continued existence, for a given number of years, of one's marvelously complex and utterly perfect physical body, itself being a mere reflection and complement of several other invisible bodies composing the entire apparatus used to get a chance to experience a human life, one among countless successive lifetimes, should be enough to bring anyone to pause for a few seconds and appreciate with deeply felt gratitude the exquisitely precious gift of life most humans all too often take for granted.
No matter how difficult the circumstances one may encounter in the course of a day, a week, a year or a lifetime, it should always be clear that there is so much more to be grateful for than the transitory difficulties one may face that it is worth reiterating with fervent heart-centredness the immense sense of blissful appreciation that is due to honor and acknowledge Who We Are and what we are becoming. Such a grateful attitude is a central key to unlock the infinitely deep well of Love that can thus resonate in unified perception of What Is and inspire upwards the fledging consciousness of one's divine nature.
As you join in synchronous meditation with all other participants, worldwide, simply Be All The Gratitude That You Can Be, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at
To review the previous three Meditation Focus of this 20 week series, please go at
"The spiritual practice of gratitude has been called a state of mind and a way of life. But we prefer to think of it as a grammar an underlying structure that helps us construct and make sense out of our lives. The rules of this grammar cover all our activities. Its syntax reveals a system of relationships linking us to the divine and to every other part of the creation. To learn the grammar of gratitude, practice saying "thank you" for happy and challenging experiences, for people, animals, things, art, memories, dreams. Count your blessings, and praise God. Utter blessings, and express your appreciation to everything and everyone you encounter. By blessing, we are blessed."
- Author unknown - Taken from http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/newsh/items/blank/item_188.html
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others."
- Cicero - Taken from http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/labs/emmons/
"Waking up this morning, I see the blue sky. I join my hands in thanks for the many wonders of life; for having twenty-four brand-new hours before me."
- Thich Nhat Hanh in Call Me by My True Names =- Taken from http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/newsh/items/soulbooster/item_467.html
Many more quotes on gratitude at http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/newsh/lists/pthp_soulbooster_15.html
Much more related material at http://www.sandhold.com/newsh/items/blank/item_188.html
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation BOTH to the healing of the Earth as a whole and to reiterate our willingness and desire - if we so choose - to receive http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus120.htm assistance from our space family in order to help set things on a path towards a new era of global peace, love and harmony for all. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below correspond to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage 7:00 AM -- Los Angeles 8:00 AM -- Denver 9:00 AM -- San Salvador, Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 10:00 AM -- New York, Toronto & Montreal 11:00 AM -- Halifax, Santo Domingo, La Paz & Caracas 12:00 PM -- Montevideo, Asuncion * & Santiago * 1:00 PM -- Rio de Janeiro * 2:00 PM -- London, Dublin, Lisbon, Reykjavik & Casablanca 4:00 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris & Madrid 5:00 PM -- Ankara, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Athens, Helsinki & Istanbul 6:00 PM -- Baghdad, Moscow & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Tehran 7:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 AM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington * +5:00 AM
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?day=20&month=11&year=2005&hour=16&min=0&sec=0&p1=0 to find your corresponding local time for tomorrow if a nearby city is not listed above.
3. MORE INFORMATION RELATED TO THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
The following suggested material may assist you in threading the consciousness path that can help bring you to a space of perfect balance, vital co-creativity and greater inner harmony.
2. Blessing: The Art and the Practice
3. Selfless Gratitude
What is the true essence of gratitude? Does one derive a sense of gratitude from doing or from Being? Is it possible to live moment by moment in a state of gratitude?
For me, gratitude lives in a special place. Gratitude lives within the Serene Center of my Being within my Heart. When I can be in the moment in a state of acceptance, I find myself living in gratitude. I see life from the perspective of my Soul. There is a peace that passeth understanding in my Heart. With this peace comes insights, realizations, and clarity as to why I have chosen this or that drama as my teacher.
The true essence of gratitude is all about Self-Love. It is about giving myself permission to be all that I am. It is about feeling Love and Compassion for myself and others. As soon as I begin to question and judge the present moment, I leave this place of gratitude and enter negativity, resistance, fear, and ego gratification. I experience a heaviness, a reactivity, an inability to be with what is. When I live in a state of gratitude, I experience a lightness of Being, a warmth in my Heart, a serenity. I now have a Conscious Awareness of both negative reactivity and gratitude. This allows me to choose where I want to be in each moment - in my ego or in my Heart and Soul.
I am blessed with loved ones who support me in Being all that I am and who appreciate the mirror that I am for them. Life has become a big stage on which I dance, sing, act, speak, and feel the Truth of my Being. Each moment is an opportunity to see Love in everything and everyone. To experience the blessing that is life. To choose Love over fear. Each moment is an opportunity to live in gratitude.
I live much of my life in a state of gratitude. Each day more of the Love which I am is revealed to me. I am able to process old wounds. At the same time, I am watching myself change. Everytime I am able to experience pain, anger, sadness, or rage without judgment, I am able to move to a new level of Self-acceptance and Self-Love. The pain associated with old wounds is embraced in my Heart. My Soul speaks to me with total clarity. The pain is transformed into peace and gratitude.
I realize that living in a state of gratitude creates even more gratitude and thanksgiving. Living in a state of gratitude is contagious. Living in a state of gratitude is living in a state of exaltation. Living in a state of gratitude is Being one with my Soul.
More related material at http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/newsh/items/blank/item_188.html
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Blessing: The Art and the Practice
Riverhead 06/02 Paperback $15.00
In ancient times, people would regularly bless each other, their labors, their homes, their land, and their animals. Nowadays, this spiritual practice is often limited to religious services and ceremonies, the occasional "bless you" when someone sneezes in public, or the response of a homeless person after receiving a gift of change.
Philosopher David Spangler (Parent as Mystic, Mystic as Parent; A Pilgrim in Aquarius) wants us to change all that and come to see blessing as a regular, natural, and grateful part of our everyday lives: "A blessing is not the function of a particular role. It is the natural expression of the fiery love and inclusiveness of our inner spirit. It is the manifestation of a soulfire, and each of us can be its hearth."
Spangler gave a blessing to a woman who asked for one back in 1966 in Los Angeles and ever since then he has practiced this art, which he believes is an affirmation of our interconnectedness with others, our creativity, caring, and kindness. "A blessing is the passing of spirit between us. It's a slash in the flesh of the ego so that the blood of the soul may be exchanged and we may become life brothers and life sisters. . . . In the act of blessing, we consecrate each other. We give of ourselves to each other."
The author has taught a course on blessing, and much of the material in this satisfying and edifying book is taken from his experiences and those of his students. Spangler outlines the four steps of this practice and then presents a blessings workbook replete with imagery exercises and suggested ways to bless a place, another person, the non-human world, an activity, inner work, and world work.
All blessings emanate from a deep and holy place of gratitude within us. Anyone trying these practices will reap the benefits of extending his or her love to others. We agree with Spangler's imaginative approach to this spiritual art. In these uncivil times, blessing is more important than ever.
Read an excerpt on gratitude...
A Spiritual Exercise from Blessing: The Art and the Practice by David Spangler
David Spangler in his book on the art and practice of blessing shows us how we can use this spiritual energy to make connections we've never thought about before.
"Blessings are asked at beginnings and endings, and at many points in between. Indeed, any time we feel a situation or a person needs the benefit of divine providence, we ask for blessing. This is how we normally understand a blessing in our culture. It's an invocation of the presence and power of the sacred upon a person's life or upon the function of an object.
"We normally don't bless in the middle of our work day at the office or on the factory floor, especially if the boss has just given us an extra assignment. We don't bless while sitting in a traffic gridlock. We don't bless while watching television or sitting in a movie theater. We don't ordinarily stop and invoke a blessing in the midst of our lovemaking (though the act itself may be a blessing), or while playing baseball, or cooking dinner, or mixing a martini. And when we're laughing in the sheer delight of a moment, we probably don't ask for a blessing then, either.
"In short, in the midst of the boring times, the happy times, the angry times, and the routine times, performing a blessing may be the last thing on our minds. In the midst of the ordinary and the trivial, we tend not to think of the power of the sacred or the presence of the unobstructed world.
"But like the orange juice that is not just for breakfast anymore, blessings need not only be for special occasions. A blessing can be anytime we wish to make a deeper connection with the life (and lives) around us. As much as it is an invocation, it's also an act of discovering the part of us that moves in harmony on the dance floor of creation. In fact, the art of blessing is not only about the act of blessing but about an attitude towards the world, a way of seeing things that goes beyond our ordinary perceptions."
To Practice: Say more blessings, particularly during boring and routine times.
By Phillip Moffitt
Through the mindfulness practice of gratitude, you are able to rejoice amidst all life's suffering.
Students leaving a meditation retreat will sometimes ask me to recommend a mindfulness practice they can incorporate into their daily routine that will keep them in touch with the experiences they've had during the retreat. There are many such practices, but occasionally I suggest one thatalmost always surprises them and sometimes draws skepticism-the mindful cultivation of gratitude. Gratitude is the sweetest of all the practices for living the dharma in daily life and the most easily cultivated, requiring the least sacrifice for what is gained in return. It is a very powerful form of mindfulness practice, particularly for students who have depressive or self-defeating feelings, those who have access to wonder as an ecstatic state, and those with a reactive personality who habitually notice everything that's wrong in a situation.
The Buddha taught that every human birth is precious and worthy of gratitude. In one of his well-known analogies, he said that receiving a human birth is more rare than the chance that a blind turtle floating in the ocean would stick its head through a small hoop. He would often instruct a monk to take his ground cloth into the forest, sit at the base of a tree, and begin "gladdening the heart" by reflecting on the series of fortunate circumstances that had given the monk the motivation and ability to seek freedom through understanding the dharma.
Practicing mindfulness of gratitude consistently leads to a direct experience of being connected to life and the realization that there is a larger context in which your personal story is unfolding. Being relieved of the endless wants and worries of your life's drama, even temporarily, is liberating. Cultivating thankfulness for being part of life blossoms into a feeling of being blessed, not in the sense of winning the lottery, but in a more refined appreciation for the interdependent nature of life. It also elicits feelings of generosity, which create further joy. Gratitude can soften a heart that has become too guarded, and it builds the capacity for forgiveness, which creates the clarity of mind that is ideal for spiritual development.
Let me be clear: The practice of gratitude is not in any way a denial of life's difficulties. We live in troubling times, and no doubt you've experienced many challenges, uncertainties, and disappointments in your own life. Nor does the practice of gratitude deny the Buddha's teaching on death: Death is certain; your death is certain; the time of death is unknown; the time of your death is unknown. Rather, gratitude practice is useful because it turns the mind in such a way that it enables you to live into life or, more accurately, to die into life. Having access to the joy and wonderment of life is the antidote to feelings of scarcity and loss. It allows you to meet life's difficulties with an open heart. The understanding you gain from practicing gratitude frees you from being lost or identified with either the negative or the positive aspects of life, letting you simply meet life in each moment as it rises.
In the Bible the disciple Paul instructs, "In everything give thanks." What he means is that from your limited perspective it is not possible to know the outcome of any event. What can seem unfortunate at first may turn out to be an unforeseen blessing.
There is a very old Sufi story about a man whose son captured a strong, beautiful, wild horse, and all the neighbors told the man how fortunate he was. The man patiently replied, "We will see." One day the horse threw the son who broke his leg, and all the neighbors told the man how cursed he was that the son had ever found the horse. Again the man answered, "We will see." Soon after the son broke his leg, soldiers came to the village and took away all the able-bodied young men, but the son was spared. When the man's friends told him how lucky the broken leg was, the man would only say, "We will see."Gratitude for participating in the mystery of life is like this.
The Sufi poet Rumi speaks of the mystery of life coming from God in his poem "The Guest House": "This being human is a guest house / Every morning a new arrival. / A joy, a depression, a meanness / some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. / Welcome and entertain them all! / Even if they're a crowd of sorrows / who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture. / Still, treat each guest honorably. / He may be clearing you out for some new delight." (The Essential Rumi. Coleman Barks, HarperSanFrancisco, 1995.) Gratitude practiced in this manner brings delight, balances out your tendency to focus on the negative, and can even lift a dark mood.
Counting Your Blessings
There are numerous ways to use mindfulness to cultivate gratitude. Of course you acknowledge your appreciation when things are going well. But even more helpful is to notice those things for which you are grateful when you are contracted physically or emotionally. I often instruct students to respond to a difficult situation by acknowledging it as such, then saying to themselves, "Yes, this is terrible, and I am grateful for . . . ." An example would be, "I am angry at this moment, and I am grateful I have a mind which knows this is so and can deal with it." I also encourage students to focus on the wonderment of nature and the human capacity for learning and creating. It is so easy to only notice the terrible aspects of human beings so that wonderment is often forgotten.
You can reflect on gratitude by inquiring if it is time-based. Ask yourself what happened to all the gratitude you have felt in the past? Where did it go? Do you believe that gratitude is dependent on feeling good right now? If so, isn't that a very small-minded, "what have you done for me lately?" attitude? Would it not imply that your gratitude is contingent upon an exchange-as long as you feel good, you will be grateful, and if not, forget it. This is not the quality of gratitude that leads to a mystical, direct experience of life; it is an unskillful blackmail or emotional demand on the universe.
You can also practice being consciously grateful to your family, friends, teachers, benefactors, and all those who have come before you who have made it possible for your existence to be comfortable, informed, and empowered. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to mentally note the many people who have invisibly served you by providing medicine, shelter, safety, food, and education.
If you were asked to make a list of things for which you are grateful, how long would this list be-20 items, 100, 500? Most likely you would include your health, your mind's ability to function well, family, friends, and freedom. But would it include the basics, like a safe place to sleep, clean air and water, food, and medicine? What about for Earth itself, blue skies, a child's laughter, a warm touch, the smell of spring, the tang of salt, the sweetness of sugar, or that morning cup of coffee?
The making of such a list is not meant to make you feel indebted but is intended to clarify your understanding of how life really is. It is a reflective meditation that uses mindfulness to carry you beyond the superficial to a deeper experience of your life unfolding moment by moment. You learn to throw off the blinders of habitual assumptions that prevent you from perceiving the miracle of life.
The next step in gratitude practice is to actively notice things you are grateful for throughout your regular day. For instance, when you're stuck in traffic and it's making you late and irritated, you notice you can be thankful you have transportation and that other drivers are abiding by the agreed-upon driving rules, which prevent chaos and unsafe conditions. In other words, there is a level of well-being and community cooperation that is supporting you even in the midst of your bad day. And you do this not just once or twice, but a hundred times each day. You do so not to get out of a bad mood or to be a nicer person, but with the intention of clearly seeing the true situation of your life. Traffic remains frustrating, but the inner experience of how your life is unfolding begins to shift. Slowly you become clearer about what really matters to you, and there is more ease in your daily experience.
You might ask yourself about your "gratitude ratio." Do you experience the good things in your life in true proportion to the bad things? Or do the bad things receive a disproportionate amount of your attention, such that you have a distorted sense of your life? It can be shocking to examine your life this way because you may begin to realize how you are being defined by an endless series of emotional reactions, many of which are based on relatively unimportant, temporary desires. When you look at how much griping you do versus how much gratitude you feel, you realize how far off your emotional response is from your real situation. The purpose of this inquiry is not to judge yourself but rather to motivate yourself to find a truer perspective. Why would you want to go around with a distorted view of your life, particularly when it makes you miserable?
Without instruction, reflecting on gratitude can seem boring or sentimental, evoking memories of your mother admonishing you to eat all the food on your plate. Part of the confusion is that many people have come to equate gratitude with obligation. But real gratitude begins as appreciation for that which has come into your life. Out of this appreciation, a natural, spontaneous emotion arises that is gratitude, which is often followed by generosity. When gratitude comes from indebtedness, by definition what's been given cannot have been a gift.
There is a shadow side to gratitude, in which reality gets distorted in yet another way. It manifests as a hopeless or helpless attitude disguised as gratitude, and it expresses itself in a self-defeating, passive voice - "Yes, these things are wrong and unfair, but I should be grateful for what I have," or "At least we have this," or "Compared to these people, look how much better off we are." This voice, whether it is an inner voice or comes from someone else, is not to be trusted. Gratitude is not an excuse for being passive in the face of personal or societal need or injustice. You are not excused from working to become a caring person, creating a better life for your loved ones, or protecting the innocent. Acknowledging the great gift of a human life through gratitude is just the opposite; it is a call to action to be a caring human being while acknowledging the folly of basing your happiness on the outcome of your actions.
Many students ask, If experiencing gratitude feels so good, why do we often shortchange it? If you will answer this question for yourself, you will gain much insight into how you make your life more difficult than it need be. Sometimes you shortchange gratitude because your mind is stuck in problem-solving mode; it only notices what isn't working and sets about trying to resolve it. This might seem desirable, but in fact there will always be things wrong in your life. So you reduce your experience of being alive if you are only responding to the negative. Is that what you want out of life? Do you really want to delay your sense of being alive while you await a future, perfect moment that is unlikely to arrive?
A second reason you might shortchange gratitude is related to the first: The mind tends to take for granted whatever is both desirable and present. This happens because the mind wants constant stimulation, and whatever is present and pleasant tends not to create that stimulation. You can see this for yourself around eating a favorite food: Notice how the first few bites taste so delicious, then how quickly the mind ceases to register the pleasant sensations. It is like this with everything-a cool breeze on a hot day, the sound of a stream as it flows over rocks, the freshness of the morning air after a rain. They all simply disappear from consciousness in the untrained mind. However, a mind trained in mindfulness of gratitude will stay attuned far longer and note more details of that which is good. The phenomenon of comparing mind is another hindrance to practicing gratitude. It is the aspect of your mind that notices, "She has a nicer car than I do," "He is stronger than I am," or "She is a better yogini than I am." Understand that there is a difference between discernment, the factor of mind that sees things clearly, and comparing mind, which exercises judgment and hides a belief system that says, "If only I have more of the right things, I will be happy." This is a false belief, of course, a mental habit really, but because it is unacknowledged and seldom examined, it holds enormous power in your life.
Unrecognized arrogance arising from a hidden sense of entitlement can also be an obstacle to practicing gratitude. When you have a strong feeling of entitlement, you don't notice what is going well, but rather what is not right. It can stem from a sense of either having suffered unfairly or having been deprived. It can also arise from feeling special because you are smart, a hard worker, or successful. At the subtle level of mindfulness, this arrogance is a form of ignorance where these two truths of life are mixed together.
Finding Grace Through Gratitude
The words "gratitude" and "grace" share a common origin: the Latin word gratus, meaning "pleasing" or "thankful." When you are in a deep state of gratitude, you will often spontaneously feel the presence of grace. The grace in receiving a human life is that it grants you the capacity to experience that which is beyond the mind and body-call it God, emptiness, Brahman, Allah, or the Ground of the Absolute.
Reflect on this: You, with all your flaws, have been chosen for this opportunity to consciously taste life, to know it for what it is, and to make of it what you are able. This gift of a conscious life is grace, even when your life is filled with great difficulty and it may not feel like a gift at the time.
When Henry Thoreau went into retreat at Walden Pond, he and his friend Ralph Emerson had been studying Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist texts. He wrote: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." He understood that conscious life was a gift for which the highest form of gratitude was to know it in all its depths.
This grace of conscious life, of having a mind that can know "this moment is like this," is the root of all wonder, from which gratitude flows. The wonder, the mystery, is that you, like everyone else, are given this short, precious time of conscious embodiment in which you can directly know life for yourself. However you find life to becruel or kind, sorrowful or joyous, bland or stimulating, indifferent or filled with loveyou get the privilege of knowing it firsthand.
Gratitude for the grace of conscious embodiment evolves into the practice of selfless gratitude, in which your concerns slowly but surely shift from being mostly about yourself and those close to you to being about all living beings. As this occurs, you need less and less in the way of good fortune. It becomes enough that there are those who are happy, who are receiving love, who are safe, and who have a promising future. It is not that you would not prefer good things for yourself, but your sense of well-being is no longer contingent on external circumstances. You are able to rejoice that amidst all life's suffering there exists joy. You realize that pain and joy are part of a mysterious whole. When this state of selfless gratitude starts to blossom, your mind becomes more spacious, quieter, and your heart receives its first taste of the long-sought release from fear and wanting. This is grace.
Columnist Phillip Moffitt is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers' Council in Woodacre, California, and the founder and president of the Life Balance Institute. He teaches vipassana meditation at Turtle Island Yoga Center in San Rafael, California.
4. ENVIRONMENTAL VIGIL FOR GLOBAL WARMING MEETING IN MONTREAL
From 28 November to 9 December Canada will host the first meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in Montreal in conjunction with the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention. The conference is an historic event. Not only will the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) be meeting for the 11th time, but 2005 also marks the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol. At Montreal, the first ever meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (MOP) will be held parallel to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP). The United Nations Climate Change Conference is set to be the largest intergovernmental climate conference since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997. Some 8,00010,000 participants are expected.
Please also keep this upcoming important event in mind during your prayers and meditations over the coming 3 weeks so as to help foster significant progress during this meeting and decisive actions afterwards to mitigate climate change.
This information below may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to this situation. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mind-set, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of global healing and environmental harmony.
1. Climate change draws thousands to Montreal gathering
2. Grim outlook for fish as climate change makes waters warmer
3. Canada, Japan, Europe failing on Kyoto greenhouse gas targets - UN
4. Global warming hitting Third world harder than the West
5. Pew Center Report -- New Approaches to Global Warming for Major Economies
6. Global Warming, Global Governance
7. India unlikely to agree to Kyoto caps
8. Seattle mayor leads push to ratify the Kyoto Treaty
9. Environmentalists delighted by corporate leaders' endorsement of Kyoto
10. U.S. won't try to undercut Kyoto climate treaty, official says
11. Rich nations' greenhouse gas emissions may rise: UN
12. Learn More on Global Warming
13. The Time to Act Is Now (by Al Gore)
Curb Your Greenhouse Gases (17 November 2005)
Comedian Larry David chats about making global warming funny. This Sunday night you may find yourself crying over global warming - in conniptions of laughter - thanks to Larry David, co-creator of "Seinfeld" and creator and star of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and his eco-activist wife, Laurie David. At 8 p.m. (7 p.m. central) on Nov. 20, TBS will air "Earth to America," a two-hour comedy extravaganza produced by Laurie and starring Larry that is designed to get America laughing - and, more to the point, learning - about global warming. They promise it will be an upbeat, non-preachy, gut-splitting TV special on one of the least funny issues on the planet. The global warming yuk-fest has an all-star roster, featuring Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin and Ben Stiller, among many others. Writers from "The Daily Show," "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" conspired to help with the event, which will be staged live at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Earlier this week, America's favorite curmudgeon, Larry David, talked by phone from his home in Los Angeles, with some inside dish on the show. CLIP
Stop Global Warming
Help stop global warming - Join the Virtual March
Why I Am Marching - by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Our generation faces the greatest moral and political crisis in human history. Will we take the steps necessary to avert catastrophic global warming or will we doom our children to a new Dark Ages in a world that is biologically and economically impoverished and defined by ever diminishing quality of life. According to the grimmest forecasts, extreme global warming could give us a future where erratic and chaotic weather, rising sea levels, and melting snowpack usher in an epic of drought, crop failure, famine, flood and mass extinctions -- and the political instability that invariably accompanies dwindling resources. Millions of environmental refugees uprooted by these calamities will challenge the existence of democracy, freedom, justice and human dignity in every corner of the globe. Our grandchildren may look longingly at our era as the apex of civilization and human progress.
Montréal 2005: The United Nations Climate Change Conference (Official website)
United Nations Climate Change Conference http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_11/items/3394.php
Site Map - Climate Change Government of Canada
November 18, 2005
Climate change draws thousands to Montreal gathering
Nunavut's environment minister to join scientists, activists and politicians from almost 200 countries
Over the next few weeks, expect to hear a lot of talk about climate change, more talk about new sources of energy, and perhaps less talk about the Kyoto Protocol, as the world looks for new ways to curb global warming.
The pressure to reach a global consensus will build when more than 10,000 scientific experts, activists and delegates from nearly 200 governments meet in Montreal from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 to come up with a climate change strategy that works for everyone.
High-ranking international officials suggest this strategy will focus on new technology that can provide energy in ways that are secure, cost-efficient and sustainable, rather than the emission cap system set out in the Kyoto Protocol.
The selling point of this approach will be the economic benefits of developing new energy sources.
Use of these new energy sources are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by burning fossil fuels, which are heating up the atmosphere and changing the climate.
The plan for the future would include developing countries such as China, India and Brazil, which were left out of the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This new approach to dealing with global warming is also likely to be attractive to the United States, which never ratified the Kyoto protocol.
"It will not help anyone if we don't have the U.S. included," Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's minister of the environment, told Nunatsiaq News.
The new approach would forgo mandatory reductions on greenhouse gas emissions, which the U.S. refused to accept in the Kyoto Protocol on economic grounds (and, a study released this week says complying with the emission reduction targets set by Kyoto has a price, and will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and reduce GDP in Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy).
Instead, the new plan will ask different sectors, such as the steel industry, to set and meet goals, and provide incentives to make it worthwhile.
The European Union and Canada have been working hard to ensure the U.S. supports this approach.
Yet officials acknowledge that not everyone will be happy with a deal that doesn't include mandatory targets to reduce emissions.
"You have to be quite pragmatic. Any action is better than no action at all, and you can't be demanding that if you don't sign, you're out," said Jan-Erik Enestam, Finland's minister of the environment, during a recent interview in Reykjavik, Iceland.
"It's a global problem. It must be a global cooperation. Every single country, every single individual, has to deliver something."
The massive international gathering in Montreal that will try to build this global cooperation is known as "COP-11." It's the 11th "Conference of the Parties," made up of those countries that signed on to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
COP-11 is also the first meeting of the 155 countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which requires developed nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.
The Government of Nunavut will be part of the Canadian delegation. Olayuk Akesuk, the GN's minister of environment, said he'll promote Nunavut as "being affected more than any other jurisdiction in Canada" by global warming.
Jan-Erik Enestam said he's optimistic about progress in Montreal because "time is speaking in favour of common action." He points to the recent hurricane Katrina that has made U.S. access to oil less secure and more expensive and, at the same time, raised awareness about climate change in the U.S.
"You can't scientifically prove they are the result of climate change, but for ordinary people, something must be done. It's easy to say, 'it's climate change: why don't you do something?' So, there will be political pressure on the (U.S.) federal government to do something."
Enestam said he senses there's political will to move ahead, but he said bureaucrats, who are familiar with the wording of every climate change agreement over the past 20 years, are "the real people who are deciding whether it goes or not."
"I think it would be much, much easier if the politicians could take the decisions without backing from officials," he said.
Grim outlook for fish as climate change makes waters warmer
AN ENVIRONMENTAL pressure group called for urgent action on global warming yesterday, after a report warned that fish populations in rivers, lochs and seas were being increasingly threatened by climate change.
WWF Scotland said rising water temperatures were leading to both marine and freshwater species raising fewer offspring, while food supplies dwindled and they were increasingly deprived of oxygen.
Its report warned that some temperate fish, such as salmon, would be unable to spawn at all if winter temperatures did not drop below a certain level.
Dr Richard Dixon, the director of WWF Scotland, said: "As climate change increases the pressure on fish populations, already strained to the limit by over-fishing, pollution and habitat loss, the outlook is pretty grim for our marine species.
"We must act urgently on both climate emissions and fishing to protect fish populations, as they are one of the world's most valuable biological, nutritional and economic assets.
"The Scottish Executive needs to take action to prevent the worst-case scenario for both our climate and fish. To protect the climate, they must set Scottish targets for reducing damaging climate change emissions. To protect remaining fish stocks, we should place further restrictions on fishing effort, in line with recent ICES [International Council for the Exploration of the Sea] advice. If we fail to secure deeper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we will increase the pressures on fish and the billions of people that depend on them as an important source of protein."
The WWF report, published ahead of this month's meeting in Montreal of key parties to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, claimed higher water temperatures were likely to stunt the growth of some fish, resulting in fewer offspring. Normally, fish metabolisms speed up as temperatures rise, but insufficient food supplies could slow their growth and reproduction rates.
The report said freshwater fish, in particular, might not have enough oxygen to breathe as waters got warmer. Fish filter oxygen from water, but the amount of oxygen dissolved in water falls as temperatures rise. In the summer of 2003 - Scotland's warmest year on record - hundreds of adult salmon died in rivers due to lack of oxygen.
WWF said rising temperatures would also result in some species, such as cod, plaice and halibut - vital for the Scottish fishing fleet - moving to cooler waters to try to maintain the normal temperatures for their habitat, and this could have a big impact on their ability to survive.
"In the Gulf of Alaska in 1993, as fish moved into cooler waters, around 120,000 sea birds starved to death as they were unable to dive deep enough to reach their relocated prey," Dr Dixon said.
"This year has seen the worst breeding record for seabirds around the coasts of Scotland, with internationally important populations of gannets, kittiwakes and puffins plummeting, many found with chicks starved to death. This was attributed to the lack of sand eels, with climate change added to years of industrial over-fishing.
"WWF wants governments meeting in Montreal to commit to starting negotiations for deeper cuts in emissions once the current commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012."
Canada, Japan, Europe failing on Kyoto greenhouse gas targets - UN
PARIS (AFX) - Canada, Japan and the old 15-member European Union are falling short on their commitments to cut greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol, according to a new UN report on global warming.
Canada is among those countries most likely to run into difficulty implementing its commitments, as in 2003 the country had increased its emissions by 24.2 pct from the base 1990 level, far from its 2012 target of a 6 pct reduction.
Japan, meanwhile, recorded a 12.8 pct increase over the 13 years to 2003 and is headed for an increase of 12 pct by 2010 instead of the intended 6 pct reduction.
And although the 15-member European Union, which ratified the treaty en bloc in 1997, achieved a reduction of 1.4 pct in emissions from 1990 to 2003 -- it is still a long way from the 8 pct target in 2012 -- most of the 15 countries have seen emissions increasing.
Eleven have reported increases since 1990, with huge rises seen in Spain (41.7 pct), Portugal (36.7 pct), Greece (25.8 pct), Ireland (25.6 pct), Finland (21.5 pct) and Austria (16.5 pct).
Of the industrialised nations, only Britain seems to be having little trouble meeting its commitments, having even surpassed its target of 12.5 pct by cutting emmissions 13 pct.
Germany also reduced its emissions impressively, by 18.2 pct, but was short of its target of 21 pct, while France (1.9 pct), Luxembourg (16 pct) and Sweden (2.3 pct) also cut emissions.
The report was published ahead of a UN conference, from Nov 28 to December 9 in Montreal, which is expected to draw more than 10,000 delegates to improve global efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming.
The United States and Australia, neither of whom have ratified the agreement, have recorded significant increases in emissions.
The US estimated a 32 pct increase by 2010 when it rejected the agreement in 2001, while under Kyoto it would have been committed to a reduction of 7 pct over the same period. In 2003, it had already registered a rise of 13.3 pct and now accounts for 40 pct of all emissions from industrialised nations.
Australia, meanwhile, had increased emissions by 23.3 pct in 2003, well on its way to meeting its own estimate of a 29.3 pct increase in 2010, compared to a Kyoto allowance of increasing emissions by 8 pct between 2008 and 2012.
17 Nov 2005
Global warming hitting Third world harder than the West
Washington: It seems even the nature is biased towards the developed countries, with a recent assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that rich countries of the West, which have contributed the maximum to global warming, are at the least risk for enduring the health effects of climate change.
According to the report, published in the journal Nature, human-induced changes in the Earth's climate now lead to at least 5 million cases of illness and more than 150,000 deaths every year. However, the health impacts of climate change affect different regions in markedly different ways. Ironically, the places that have contributed the least to warming the Earth are the most vulnerable to the death and disease higher temperatures can bring.
Those least able to cope and least responsible for the greenhouse gases that cause global warming are most affected. Herein lies an enormous global ethical challenge, said lead researcher Jonathan Patz.
Regions at highest risk for enduring the health effects of climate change include coastlines along the Pacific and Indian Oceans and sub-Saharan Africa. Large sprawling cities, with their urban heat island effect, are also prone to temperature-related health problems. Africa has some of the lowest per capita emissions of greenhouse gases. Yet, regions of the continent are gravely at risk for warming-related disease.
Many of the most important diseases in poor countries, from malaria to diarrhea and malnutrition, are highly sensitive to climate. The health sector is already struggling to control these diseases and climate change threatens to undermine these efforts, said co-researcher Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum.
The UW-Madison and WHO assessment appears only weeks before global leaders convene in Montreal during the first meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect in February 2005. The United States - the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases - has yet to ratify the Kyoto treaty.
The researchers say their work demonstrates the moral obligation of countries with high per-capita emissions, such as the U.S. and European nations, to adopt a leadership role in reducing the health threats of global warming. It also highlights the need for large, fast-growing economies, such as China and India, to develop sustainable energy policies.
Pew Center Report -- New Approaches to Global Warming for Major Economies
New report on global warming offers options and recommendations for engaging major economies in the advancement of international climate change post Kyoto Protocol expiration in 2012.
Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) November 17, 2005 -- A new report offers recommendations for engaging major economies in efforts to address global warming. Released today by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the new report offers options and recommendations from senior policymakers and stakeholders from around the world.
The report outlines the conclusions of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a group of 25 from government, business, and civil society brought together by the Pew Center for a series of discussions exploring options for advancing the international climate effort post Kyoto Protocol expiration in 2012. It will be formally released at an event in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations hearing room hosted by Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Indiana) and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Delaware), the committees Chairman and Ranking Minority Member.
In their report, the dialogue participants call for a more flexible international framework allowing countries to take on different types of climate commitments. As a step toward that, the report urges the convening of a high-level political dialogue among major economies to begin scoping out post-Kyoto Protocol strategies. The report comes two weeks before the start of climate negotiations in Montreal where governments will consider launching a new process to consider next steps in the international climate effort.
"The clear message from this very diverse group is that we need to move urgently and we need all the major economies engaged," said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center and co-chair of the Pocantico dialogue. "We must broaden the international effort with new approaches that give countries more flexibility and produce real results. The place to start is Montreal."
Dialogue members convened four times from July 2004 to September 2005. The participants, who took part in their personal capacities, included policymakers from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Malta, Mexico, Tuvalu, the United Kingdom, and the United States; senior executives from Alcoa, BP, DuPont, Eskom (South Africa), Exelon, Rio Tinto, and Toyota; and experts from the Pew Center, The Energy and Resources Institute (India), and the World Economic Forum.
"The Pocantico dialogue brought committed companies together with seasoned climate negotiators to look for solutions that are practical, politically viable, and effective," said dialogue co-chair Ged Davis, a Managing Director at the World Economic Forum, the Geneva-based organization that sponsors the annual Davos economic summit. "It is critical that business stakeholders be closely engaged as governments move forward and consider next steps in the international effort."
Other speakers at todays event will include Michael J. Flannigan, Vice President, Government Affairs, at Rio Tinto Services, Inc.; Elizabeth Anne Moler, Executive Vice President, Government and Environmental Affairs and Public Policy, at the Exelon Corporation; and Jake Siewert, Vice President, Environment, Health, and Safety, at Alcoa.
The report, International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012 Report of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, describes several "elements" or policy approaches and ways they could be linked to one another under the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change. The elements include:
Emission targets and trading, with targets varying in form, stringency, and timing;
Agreements negotiated across the power, automotive, or other key sectors;
Policy-based approaches committing countries to steps advancing both climate and development objectives without binding them to fixed emission limits;
Stronger cooperation to develop long-term "breakthrough" technologies and to deploy existing and new technologies in developing countries; and
New assistance to help highly vulnerable countries cope with urgent adaptation needs and support the development of comprehensive national adaptation strategies.
While multiple approaches could be pursued in parallel, the report says, a stronger overall effort may be possible only if they are linked in an integrated framework, giving countries the opportunity to negotiate across tracks and take on different types of commitments.
The report says that a high-level dialogue among major economies seeking broader political consensus on future multilateral efforts may be most productive if convened outside the formal negotiating process, but that any formal agreements should be negotiated under the Framework Convention.
"We wont make real progress in the negotiations until we have a stronger political consensus among the major players, including the United States and key developing countries," said Claussen. "That requires work on many fronts. But it also requires a genuine dialogue among leaders on how to take this effort forward beyond 2012."
Governments will gather in Montreal on November 28-December 9 for the Eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention and the First Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP 11-MOP 1). Under the Kyoto Protocol, parties to the Protocol must initiate consideration this year of commitments for the period beyond 2012, when the existing Kyoto commitments will expire. Some governments favor a parallel process to consider new steps under the Convention.
Meetings of the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico were held at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in Tarrytown, New York. The dialogue was supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.N. Foundation, the Wallace Global Fund, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
The full text of this and other Pew Center reports is available at From: http://www.pewclimate.org
The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is an independent, nonprofit, and non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
INCREDIBLY SOME ARE STILL DENYING THAT GLOBAL WARMING NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED AT ALL...
Global Warming, Global Governance
By Hans Labohm
The European Parliament this week adopted a resolution on a report authored by one of its MEPs. Entitled, "Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change," it offers a new example of the institutionalized scare-mongering so characteristic of the current climate debate.
"Climate change is different from any other environmental problem we face. The main reason is that the climate system is non-linear in character, with positive feed-backs. Once we pass a certain level of green-house gas concentration (GHG) in the atmosphere, the whole system is likely to undergo drastic change. Globally intolerable impacts with disastrous consequences may occur, like annual material damages due to extreme weather events in the range of hundreds of billions of dollars, tens of millions of people being displaced, severe heat waves, large-scale change of crop and species distribution etc.
"Developing countries are likely to be the hardest hit. The poor are much more vulnerable to phenomena like floods, storms and droughts. In some regions a drier climate will lead to food production losses. Adding to that, large regions in the South will be seriously affected by rising sea levels. In spite of its different character, climate change is still mostly seen as an environmental problem and mainly the responsibility of the environment ministers. This has to change.
"Climate change has serious implications, not only for ecosystems, but for the economy as a whole, for public health, water and food security, migration etc."
This mindset is a fertile breeding ground for a quantum leap in international governance, shifting sovereignty from the national level to that of international organizations. In a way, they might promote a phoenix-like rebirth of earlier attempts, in the 1970s and 1980s, to establish an International Economic Order (NIEO), aimed at the "management of interdependence". These proposals encompassed a series of measures and reforms in the areas of raw materials, including oil, international trade, development aid, the international monetary system, science and technology, industrial development and the global food supply. They were the topic of a string of international negotiations, which took place in the second half of the 1970s in countless conferences organized by the UN, UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization).
It takes little imagination to see that all this would have resulted in a degree of government intervention - at both national and international level - which has never been equaled in the history of mankind. The whole project was characterized by a high level of international dirigisme. In other words, top-down control of the international economy by governments on the basis of international political decisions and implementation by international and national bureaucracies. Thus, what it all came down to was more government and less market. Ironically enough, the plan appeared at a time when serious defects were becoming visible in central economic control at national level, in particular in the Soviet Union and its satellite states with their command economies. In addition, the rise of the new economic liberalism at the beginning of the 1980s led to a trend reversal: more market and less government. As a result, all these proposals died a quiet death.
Nevertheless, supporters of a new world order remain convinced that they had solutions to many of the world's problems. But, in the absence of international political agreement, they were solutions in search of a suitable problem. Like a fire brigade that has spent years on tenterhooks in the station before finally being called out to extinguish a major fire, the advent of man-made global warming offered the adherents of world government a fresh chance.
But will their efforts this time be crowned with success? It does not seem likely. It has become clear that Kyoto's costs are excessively high and its benefits, in terms of net climate cooling, infinitesimal. Cost estimates for the first round of Kyoto, from now till 2012, are of the order of ¤500-billion to ¤1 trillion. The proponents of Kyoto have calculated (but never published) that this will result in a net cooling of less than 0.02 (two hundredths!) degrees Celsius in 2050. This is undetectable even with the most accurate thermometers of today. Moreover, the yearly fluctuations of temperatures are a multiple of this figure.
Many countries, including the US, Australia, China, India and Brazil, are unwilling to join the Kyoto approach of binding caps on carbon dioxide emissions in conjunction with tradable emission rights. Italy, which joined the first round of the treaty, has already announced it will drop out when this round ends in 2012. If this happens, Russia, which Europe bribed into Kyoto in exchange for European support of its membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), will have a perfect alibi to back out as well.
At the July G8 Summit at Gleneagles, the world leaders failed to agree on a follow-up round, although many months earlier, summit host Tony Blair had billed this as a major issue. But after the summit Blair has hinted that Britain may pull out of attempts to draw up a successor to the Kyoto climate treaty because the economic price of cutting greenhouse gas emissions is too high. Rather than rely on global agreements to reverse rising greenhouse gas emissions, Blair appeared to place faith in science, technology and the free market - as President George W. Bush had in repudiating the Kyoto treaty in 2001.
Of course, Blair's admission has outraged environmentalists on both sides of the Atlantic, who lamented that it flied in the face of his promises made in the past two years. Moreover, they feared that it will effectively block the upcoming Ottawa talks on a new treaty to combat climate change. As Jonathan Brown, observed in The Independent, "Tony Blair came under concerted attack from leading environmental groups yesterday as he was accused of appearing 'indistinguishable' from George Bush on green issues. Green campaigners feel betrayed after Mr Blair made the environment a centrepiece of Britain's presidencies of the G8 and EU, both of which expire at the end of the year. They say the Prime Minister has actually undermined hard-fought gains, particularly on the Kyoto protocol, by questioning the need for binding targets on reducing emissions and by suggesting they might be incompatible with economic success."
All this does not augur well for the for the next Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is due to take place from 28 November to 9 December 2005, in Montreal, where some 8,000 - 10,000 participants are expected. With the modesty which is so characteristic of the true believers, the organizers have already declared the conference to be a historic event. But it is more likely it will herald the demise of Kyoto.
Would it not be better to forget about the whole thing after all? Many would argue that this is totally inconceivable since so much political capital has been invested in the undertaking and since the population wants the governments to do "something" about the "'threat" of global warming. I suspect not. The aborted NIEO showed many similarities with Kyoto. It was an equally grandiose worldwide scheme which aimed at a considerable degree of global economic management or control, backed by enormous funds and a huge bureaucracy. It ultimately fell apart because it was ill-conceived and because it became abundantly clear that it did not serve the interests of the parties which were engaged in the process. The same might happen to Kyoto.
It could be argued that because of the flaws in its scientific underpinnings, its complexity and inconsistencies Kyoto will collapse under its own sheer weight. But in the mean time it may cause a lot of harm. It acts as a sword of Damocles, depressing the investment climate, especially in Europe. Therefore it is high time for Kyoto to be buried and to cover it with a tombstone carrying the epitaph: "Here lies a serious case of collective folly -- an exercise in modern day rain dancing ... and equally effective. RIP."
Hans Labohm, co-author of Man-Made Global Warming: Unraveling a Dogma, recently became an expert reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
India unlikely to agree to Kyoto caps
Nov 17, 2005
By Sugita Katyal
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is unlikely to agree to any emission caps in the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol because of its expanding energy-hungry economy, but analysts say developed nations will continue to pile pressure on the nation.
Asia's third-largest economy and home to about a sixth of humanity has some of the most polluted cities in the world, many of them continually shrouded in eye-stinging smog of noxious fumes from cars and industry.
Its growing energy needs are only expected to increase along with pollution levels in the next few decades, despite growing fears that global warming will spare no one.
The Kyoto climate change pact requires developed nations to cut their emissions of heat-trapping gases by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The United States and Australia refused to ratify the pact and developing nations, such as China and India are exempt from emissions caps all four countries say threaten economic growth.
China's appetite for oil and coal is even greater than India's. Both are likely to come under pressure to do more to curb emissions growth when they join officials from 150 countries in Montreal for a U.N. climate change summit.
The Montreal meeting from November 28 will help shape the Kyoto Protocol after its first phase ends in 2012, but disagreement is rife and hopes of progress slim.
"There is no way that anybody can expect countries like India to cap their emissions for the next 20-25 years," said S.K. Joshi, a senior official in the environment ministry.
"We welcome the talks among the parties for the second commitment period strictly in accordance with the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol. The issue of entitlements has to be addressed and the countries that have agreed to take on commitments under the protocol have to show demonstrable progress."
Many scientists blame the rapid increase in greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, over the past century for causing global warming, the worst effects of which could include rising seas, greater extremes of drought and flood and more intense storms.
While India's cities might be hugely polluted because of the furious pace of industrialization, the country's per capita emissions were still relatively low at 0.25 tonnes of carbon in 2001, which is less than a quarter of the world average and many times less than the United States.
At the same time, India's contribution to world carbon emissions is expected to grow at an average 3 percent a year until 2025, compared with 1.5 percent in the United States, because of ambitious expansion plans in the energy sector.
According to industry estimates, India's oil consumption is expected to grow to 2.8 million barrels per day by 2010 from 2.65 million barrels per day in 2004.
In an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions by developing energy technology, India became one of six countries -- along with the United States, China, Australia, India and South Korea -- to form the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate in July.
"By joining the partnership we have not compromised our position in any manner. This is complementing the Kyoto Protocol. This is one more approach, an alternative approach to the whole process of addressing the climate change issue," Joshi said.
Environmentalists say India should not agree to any binding commitments after 2012.
"Kyoto is too little and too late. Nobody can say it's an effective mechanism to control climate change," said Sunita Narain, head of the Center for Science and Environment, a leading environmental NGO.
"There have been no major structural changes to combat climate change in the North. The use of fossil fuels continues. And pressure will continue to grow on India and China to take on commitments."
Seattle mayor leads push to ratify the Kyoto Treaty
by Madeleine Hottman
November 18, 2005
Kyoto is a foreign word and a foreign name to most students at SeattleUniversity. It is not a Japanese garment or battle cry of warriors in the past. However, the international community is rallying behind this name to raise standards that will presumably lower harmful Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions by the year 2012.
It is hard to believe that carbon dioxide emissions would be an issue in a city like Seattle. Nicknamed the EmeraldCity for its lush beauty, our city is home to some of the best-preserved green spaces in the country. Seattle is also leading the way on implementing policies that mimic the Kyoto Protocol with Mayor Greg Nickels recent move to lower greenhouse gas levels and prevent urban sprawl.
Nickels did not stop with Seattle, but rather united mayors across the country to sign the United States Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. A total of 138 mayors signed the agreement on Oct. 21, 2005, at the national mayors meeting, which agreed to meet the standards of the Kyoto Protocol as well.
Kyoto is not a big name in the news, as it has yet to be implemented in many of the countries that signed on to it. However, it is pertinent to what Mayor Nickels is working for.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that was ratified into law in February 2005. The protocol was signed by 141 countries, each agreeing to make concrete policy changes that work to improve the environment. Specifically, the protocol addresses the levels of greenhouse gasses that scientists hypothesized to be contributing to global warming. One of the main goals of the treaty is to lower greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and industries by 7 percent by the year 2012.
This sounds like a good deal for the environment, yet critics maintain that with these new standards, the economy is at stake for a solution to a problem that has not been fully researched.
The United States has not signed on to the treaty because of a fundamental disagreement about the connection between greenhouse gases and global warming. There are also disputes that the global warming theory is not substantial enough to base policy on it. In 2002, President Bush held that the Kyoto Protocol is fundamentally flawed in that it has not been determined what level of warming actually exists. Bush therefore would not send the protocol to the Senate.
I will not commit our nation to an unsound international treaty that will throw millions of our citizens out of work, Bush told the press in 2002.
Currently, the United States relies on the Environmental Protection Agency for its standards of pollution and environmental protection.
President Bushs move to not sign the protocol damaged relations with many countries because, according to the UNFCCC, the United States contributes approximately 36 percent of greenhouse gasses, with other leaders being China and India.
Much of the same objections have developed in response to the current mayors agreement. The basic idea of the agreement is to raise environmental protection policies at the local level to the levels that the Kyoto Protocol mandates.
Nickels spearheaded a bold move by mayors across the country to initiate the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Nickels action directly opposes the stance that the American Council of Capital Formation and the United States Department of Energy, which holds the Bush administrations view of the treaty.
So, what does Kyoto mean?
At first glance, the Mayors Agreement should not even be an issue. Implementing the policy at the local level appears to be a strategy that circumvents the federal governments move to not acknowledge the problem of global warming.
Another look proves to be more illuminating why would a mayor make a policy that has little potential to make a dent in the problem of greenhouse gasses?
The answer many SU students gave was that its a no-brainer to want to protect the environment, but that making it a political move, as Nickels has recently done, will not do much for the global warming problem.
The environment should be a non-partisan issue, said Omar Harb, a sophomore political science and Spanish major. We should defend it regardless.
In politicizing an environmental issue, some critics would contend that the Mayors Agreement will no more help the environment than the election of President Bush to the White House. Because the issue is now that the mayor has a big environmental agenda to push, it will compromise the implementation of the policy making the Mayors Agreement wasted paper.
Students can do their part to help the environment, said Josh Horton, a sophomore psychology major. Until this happens on a large scale, though, it only amounts to a little bit.
The other side of the Mayors Agreement is that Nickels has effectively raised opposition to the unacknowledgement and apathy for a crucial issue.
The mayors move raises a lot of awareness, and Seattle has a reputation for this type of thing, said Matt Harnpadoungsataya, a freshman biochemistry major.
By making the Kyoto Protocol a larger issue for other cities in the United States, there is a hope that the White House and Congress will acknowledge the issue as legitimate.
So now that Mayor Nickels has signed this piece of paper, whats next?
There is a start here at SU: the StudentCenter is working toward becoming a green building with solar energy and efficient lighting. Bus passes are available at the CampusAssistanceCenter for free. There is a new club on campus with the sole purpose of working for green energy.
These are just a few ways students can help. But will it really make a difference?
All the little bits add up, its just a matter of making people realize that, Harb said.
Harnpadoungsataya and his brother, Mark, commuted daily and noticed that they could commute together, which saves them fuel but also saves the environment from more pollution.
This [effort] really matters. If we dont take care of the world now, then we may not have a world for future generations, said Mark, a freshman biology major, about his effort for cutting his personal contribution to pollution.
Students can make a difference in the move to improve Seattles air quality. Personal choices add up, though most of those choices include the inconvenience of maintaining a vehicles exhaust system, taking the bus or biking whenever possible.
The Kyoto Protocol is making individual nations responsible for their air, so it is the individuals within these nations who will make the real difference. Greg Nickels has started this change for Seattle, and now students can assist in the change at SeattleUniversity.
Environmentalists delighted by corporate leaders' endorsement of Kyoto
November 18, 2005
OTTAWA (CP) - Environmentalists are delighted that some of Canada's top corporate executives endorse the Kyoto protocol, calling it a major shift in the attitude of the business community.
In a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin made public Thursday, the 18 corporate leaders urge that Canada's climate-change plan be extended beyond the 2008-2012 time frame of the Kyoto protocol.
"Climate change raises the risk of severe consequences for human health and security and the environment," says the letter. "We note that Canada is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change."
The letter is signed by the heads of such companies as Alcan, BC Hydro, E.I. Dupont Canada, Desjardins Group, Shell Canada, Bombardier, Power Corp., Falconbridge and Business Depot.
"I think this shows an unprecedented consensus in Canadian society that we need tough action to cut greenhouse emissions," Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute, said in an interview.
Environmentalist Louise Comeau, who worked with Alcan President Travis Engen to enlist support for the statement, said the signatories deserve credit for a courageous stand.
Engin said many corporations have been working for years to reduce greenhouse emissions.
"Obviously there's an emerging consensus that's built up over a number of years and will continue to grow, I think," he said. "I see this (statement) as just another milestone of progress in thinking along the way."
He said business needs certainty that emissions-cutting will remain a long-term priority.
"Our goal here . . . is to say not only is this important, not only are we working on it, but from an industry standpoint and a society standpoint, we really need long-range guidance on these topics."
Tom d'Aquino, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said the statement by 18 corporate leaders doesn't represent any shift in business thinking, and is consistent what he has been saying for years.
D'Aquino said he recognizes that climate change represents a major potential risk and so do most business leaders. He said he would have signed the letter himself but wasn't asked.
Comeau said additional signatures are still welcome.
"The statement was negotiated by a small group for ease of process but we invite all companies in Canada to endorse the statement."
November 18, 2005
U.S. won't try to undercut Kyoto climate treaty, official says
OTTAWA (CP) - The United States recognizes the threat of climate change and won't try to undercut the Kyoto protocol at a key international conference in Montreal this month, says a senior American official.
Friday's assurance came as Canada prepares to host the first conference of parties to the Kyoto treaty, with the goal of strengthening it to further cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Many environmentalists have publicly worried that the U.S. will play a spoiler role at the Montreal conference, which opens Nov. 28.
Such fears have been fanned by U.S. leadership of a separate effort to curb emissions - the Asia Pacific Partnership - involving Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea.
Unlike the Kyoto treaty, the Asia Pacific Partnership does not impose absolute emissions-cutting targets on members, but seeks to encourage greater energy efficiency and the adoption of low-emissions technology.
"Technology for us seems to be the best avenue for approaching this," said the U.S. official, who cannot be named under the rules of a media briefing Friday.
He said the Asian partnership should not be seen as a U.S. attempt to create an alternative to Kyoto.
"It's a complementary effort. I don't know how else for us to engage countries like China and India without doing something like this.
"We're not trying to undermine Kyoto in any way or replace it, it's just this is the way we think we can be of most help."
Even though Washington has withdrawn from the Kyoto protocol, it remains a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the umbrella agreement for the protocol. The United States is a major funder of the convention, and will participate in the Montreal meeting.
There have been suggestions that Washington might be convinced to rejoin the protocol, but the official made it clear that won't happen any time soon.
He said the short time frames of the protocol - to meet tough emissions targets by 2012 - are not realistic. And he added that too few countries are subject to reductions under the protocol, and unrealistic mandates would impede investments in new technology.
He said the United States will have invested more than $20 billion in efforts to cut greenhouse pollution by the end of this year - more than any other country.
The U.S. government is seeking to cut greenhouse gas intensity by 18 per cent by 2012. Greenhouse intensity refers to the amount of greenhouse emissions per unit of economic output.
Under the U.S. approach, emissions could rise in absolute terms due to economic growth even if the improved efficiency target were met.
In the period 1990-2002, the United States was more successful in curbing greenhouse emissions than Canada. American emissions rose 13 per cent, while Canadian emissions rose 20 per cent.
Rich nations' greenhouse gas emissions may rise: UN
Nov 17, 2005
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) - Rich nations' emissions of greenhouse gases are likely to rise in coming years after a fall linked to the collapse of smokestack industries in the former Soviet Union, U.N. data showed on Thursday.
Emissions of the gases, widely blamed by scientists for global warming, were down 5.9 percent overall in 2003 from 1990 in 40 rich nations including former Communist states.
That beat a goal of a cut of 5.2 percent by 2008-12 in the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to promote cuts in the use of fossil fuel and a shift to clean energy like solar or wind power.
"Further efforts are required to sustain these reductions and to cut the emissions further," the Bonn-based Secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), of which Kyoto is a part, said in a report.
It projected that emissions could rise by 10.6 percent above 1990 levels by 2010 and cautioned that most of the overall cuts were from the early 1990s when high-polluting industries in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe shut down.
Biggest falls in emissions were in the Baltic states while nations including Spain and Portugal were furthest over the Kyoto targets in 2003.
"Greenhouse gas projections indicate the possibility of emission growth by 2010. It means that ensuring sustained and deeper emission reductions remains a challenge for developed countries," said Richard Kinley, acting head of the Secretariat.
A U.N. meeting in Montreal, Canada, from Nov 28-Dec 9 will start looking at ways to extend Kyoto and widen it to non-participants including the United States and developing nations like China and India after 2012.
Many scientists say that the build-up of greenhouse gases -- from power plants, factories and cars -- is driving up temperatures and could cause catastrophic climate changes with more storms, floods, deserts and rising sea levels.
Kinley said Montreal would be the start of a long haul to work out what happens after Kyoto.
"There are, let's admit it, very wide differences of opinion amongst governments," he told a news conference. Asked when a successor to Kyoto might be ready, he said: "Many countries are speaking about something in the 2008-10 timeframe."
The United States pulled out of Kyoto in 2001 when President George W. Bush said it was too expensive and wrongly excluded poor nations from the first round to 2012.
According to the UNFCCC data, Lithuania had made the deepest cuts at 66.2 percent below 1990 levels in 2003, followed by Baltic neighbours Latvia on 58.5 percent and Estonia on 50.8 percent.
At the other end of the scale, Spain was furthest above target with a 41.7 percent rise in emissions above 1990 in 2003, followed by Monaco at 37.8 percent, Portugal 36.7 percent, Greece 25.8 and Ireland 25.6 percent.
The United States was 13.3 percent over 1990 levels.
Among developing nations, some of which have submitted data for several years even though they have no targets, the UNFCCC said the biggest rise was in Paraguay with a 114 percent gain in 1994 against 1990 and the biggest fall in Cuba, of 40 percent.
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The results are in. Global warming is real. It's more than an environmental issue; it's about our national security, it's about our public health. It's an urgent matter of survival for everyone on the planet - the most urgent threat facing humanity today. That's why it's going to take more than policy debates and think tanks and lip service from governments. It's going to take action - by you, by all of us working together.
The first step is to join stopglobalwarming.org!
What is Global Warming?
We exist on this planet because the earth naturally traps just enough heat in the atmosphere to keep the temperature within a very narrow range - which creates the conditions that give us breathable air, clean water, and weather we can survive. Human beings have begun to tip that balance. We've overloaded the atmosphere with heat- trapping gasses from our cars and factories and power plants. If we don't start fixing the problem - right now - there will be devastating changes to our environment. We will experience extreme temperatures, rises in sea levels, and storms of unimaginable destructive fury. We will make this planet uninhabitable.
Recently, alarming events that are consistent with scientific predictions about the effects of climate change have become more and more commonplace.
The massive ice sheets in the Arctic are melting at alarming rates. This is causing the oceans to rise. That is how big these ice sheets are! Most of the worlds population lives on or near the coasts. Rising ocean levels, an estimated six feet over the next 100 years will cause massive devastation and economic catastrophe to population centers worldwide.
Malaria. Dengue Fever. Encephalitis. These names are not usually heard in emergency rooms and doctors offices in the United States. But if we dont act to curb global warming, they will be. As temperatures rise, disease-carrying mosquitoes and rodents spread, infecting people in their wake. Doctors at the Harvard Medical School have linked recent U.S. outbreaks of dengue ('breakbone') fever, malaria, hantavirus and other diseases to climate change.
Super powerful hurricanes, fueled by warmer ocean temperatures are the smoking-gun of global warming. Since 1970, the number of category 4 and 5 events has risen sharply. Hurricane Katrina, in September of 2005 almost became a category 6 event. Human activities are adding an alarming amount of pollution to the earths atmosphere causing catastrophic shifts in weather patterns. These shifts will cause severe heat, floods and worse.
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Bring your own cloth bags to the market.
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A rapid transition to energy efficiency and renewable energy sources will combat global warming, protect human health, create new jobs, protect habitat and wildlife, and ensure a secure, affordable energy future.
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Air: Increase fuel efficiency standards. Cap the CO2 emissions from power plants. Shift investment to renewable energy sources.
Water: Use less energy by using less water.
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The Time to Act Is Now
by Al Gore
Rolling Stone Magazine
3 November 2005
It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly and wisely. "Global warming" is the name it was given a long time ago. But it should be understood for what it is: a planetary emergency that now threatens human civilization on multiple fronts. Stronger hurricanes and typhoons represent only one of many new dangers as we begin what someone has called "a nature hike through the Book of Revelation."
As I write, my heart is heavy due to the suffering the people of the Gulf Coast have endured. In Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, and particularly in New Orleans, thousands have experienced losses beyond measure as our nation and the world witnessed scenes many of us thought we would never see in this great country. But unless we act quickly, this suffering will be but a beginning.
The science is extremely clear: Global warming may not affect the frequency of hurricanes, but it makes the average hurricane stronger, magnifying its destructive power. In the years ahead, there will be more storms like Katrina, unless we change course. Indeed, we have had two more Category 5 storms since Katrina -- including Wilma, which before landfall was the strongest hurricane ever measured in the Atlantic.
We know that hurricanes are heat engines that thrive on warm water. We know that heat-trapping gases from our industrial society are warming the oceans. We know that, in the past thirty years, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes globally has almost doubled. It's time to connect the dots:
Last year, the science textbooks had to be rewritten. They used to say, "It's impossible to have a hurricane in the South Atlantic." We had the first one last year, in Brazil. Japan also set an all-time record for typhoons last year: ten. The previous record was seven.
This summer, more than 200 cities in the United States broke all-time heat records. Reno, Nevada, set a new record with ten consecutive days above 100 degrees. Tucson, Arizona, tied its all-time record of thirty-nine consecutive days above 100 degrees. New Orleans -- and the surrounding waters of the Gulf -- also hit an all-time high.
This summer, parts of India received record rainfall -- thirty-seven inches fell in Mumbai in twenty-four hours, killing more than 1,000 people.
The new extremes of wind and rain are part of a larger pattern that also includes rapidly melting glaciers worldwide, increasing desertification, a global extinction crisis, the ravaging of ocean fisheries and a growing range for disease "vectors" like mosquitoes, ticks and many other carriers of viruses and bacteria harmful to people.
All of these are symptoms of a deeper crisis: the "Category 5" collision between our civilization -- as we currently pursue it -- and the Earth's environment. Sixty years ago, Winston Churchill wrote about another kind of gathering storm. When Neville Chamberlain tried to wish that threat away with appeasement, Churchill said, "This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste, of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year -- unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we rise again and take our stand for freedom."
For more than fifteen years, the international community has conducted a massive program to assemble the most accurate scientific assessment on global warming. Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, have produced the most elaborate, well-organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind and have reached a consensus as strong as it ever gets in science. As Bill McKibben points out in "The Debate Is Over", there is no longer any credible basis to doubt that the Earth's atmosphere is warming because of human activities. There is no longer any credible basis to doubt that we face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming.
Scientists around the world are sounding a clear and urgent warning. Global warming is real, it is already under way and the consequences are totally unacceptable.
Why is this happening? Because the relationship between humankind and the Earth has been utterly transformed. To begin with, we have quadrupled the population of our planet in the past hundred years. And secondly, the power of the technologies now at our disposal vastly magnifies the impact each individual can have on the natural world. Multiply that by six and a half billion people, and then stir into that toxic mixture a mind-set and an attitude that say it's OK to ignore scientific evidence -- that we don't have to take responsibility for the future consequences of present actions -- and you get this violent and destructive collision between our civilization and the Earth.
There are those who say that we can't solve this problem -- that it's too big or too complicated or beyond the capacity of political systems to grasp.
To those who say this problem is too difficult, I say that we have accepted and met such challenges in the past. We declared our liberty, and then won it. We designed a country that respected and safeguarded the freedom of individuals. We abolished slavery. We gave women the right to vote. We took on Jim Crow and segregation. We cured fearsome diseases, landed on the moon, won two wars simultaneously -- in the Pacific and in Europe. We brought down communism, we defeated apartheid. We have even solved a global environmental crisis before: the hole in the stratospheric ozone layer.
So there should be no doubt that we can solve this crisis too. We must seize the opportunities presented by renewable energy, by conservation and efficiency, by some of the harder but exceedingly important challenges such as carbon capture and sequestration. The technologies to solve the global-warming problem exist, if we have the determination and wisdom to use them.
But there is no time to wait. In the 1930s, Winston Churchill also wrote of those leaders who refused to acknowledge the clear and present danger: "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent. The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences."With Hurricane Katrina, the melting of the Arctic ice cap and careless ecological mayhem, we, too, are entering a period of consequences.
This is a moral moment. This is not ultimately about any scientific debate or political dialogue. Ultimately it is about who we are as human beings. It is about our capacity to transcend our own limitations.
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